It is 04:21 and I am still up. So is my fundraiser. Please, donate and/or share. Sharing helps, too, as awareness should be raised to help prevent further suffering.
When I was 11, I read a book called The Last Unicorn. It is considered a masterpiece of fantasy, and that’s actually how I found it: It was in a collection among other masterpieces of the fantasy and scifi genre in our bookcase in our living room. I had picked one of these at random — title unseen — and was rather disappointed that the book I chose was about the pure and conventionally beautiful unicorn. Out of all the fantastic beasts I had read about, the kinds I preferred had infamously dark or unpredictable elements, such as dragons, vampires (not the vegan, sparkling, or atoning kind), jinn, Judeo-Christian demons like incubi and succubi (yes, at 11), etc. These beasts were more interesting to me because I felt their darkness and violence created complexity, depth, making them have more room to explore, and that piqued my interest. The darkness and bloodlust of vampires later made way for an interest in compulsive serial killers and an in-depth exploration of psychopathy and sociopathy. That I can thank Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray for: an obsession with remorselessness, destrucive selfishness, and an absent moral compass. At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to be a unicorn myself, there was nothing more mysterious to me than those topics. Truthfully, I think one of the reasons I explored it was so I could learn how our darknesses do tie us to another, even when at their most destructive. I have done horrible things myself, but I needed to understand why people treated me and others the way they do. Why I myself have done horrible things when I never consciously wanted to be a selfish person. (But who consciously wants to be when they see no reason to do so?)
Providing no excuses (neither for myself nor for others), at least I understand now.
At 11, The Last Unicorn strengthened ideas and feelings I already had inside me. The heavy, sad stone of solitude made me connect with her more than I would’ve liked to. Described as “a vain creature, as unicorns always are,” I did not like her by the second page. But it was written so beautifully and so emotionally and in a way that I could relate. By the end I cried hours for her, as I felt greatly close to her own suffering: neither a part of her world nor theirs. This theme is what makes me identify most with Buffy from BtVS, as well.
Humans are very much like this.
Photographers, for instance, are taught that the human eye is attracted to itself; that a portrait of a person is most effective when the eyes are involved, and those will be the first detail a viewer’s sight locates. I know this is true for myself. Humans are more interested in stories about humans or humanoid (or anthropormorphized) characters. We tend to empathize more with one another when we see in each other reflections of ourselves. This is one reason that fascist governments flourish on espousing hatred of “the other.” In the bigger picture, there is no such thing as an “other,” but there are noticeable differences between us in terms of culture, religion, appearance, etc, and this is what fascism thrives on: Driving the wedge between us with those details and scrambling the effective communication of the language that connects us all.
The more “other” someone seems than ourselves, the less likely we will understand them or feel for them or look at “the bigger picture.” I feel that words like compassion, mercy, love, and empathy have such broad definitions, and many people believe that acting those words out is the same as being passive, as tolerating the unforgivable, or even defending the indefensible. In my own dictionary, those words are not words anymore that enable but do truly heal.
We often villify those who have hurt us and/or hurt those we love or those we perceive have hurt us and/or hurt those we love. We want to be absolutely nothing like them. Whether true injustices towards us have been committed or we think they have been, our feelings are very real to us. Repression makes it worse in the long-run. But we also have to remember that though our feelings are real to us, that does not make them objective reality or actions we want to carry through because of our feelings justified.
So, what is objective reality?
When someone ties their physical form to their integrity or character value, that is when they have an increased likelihood of intentionally harming their body, and devastatingly, society encourages this connection all the time. You can want to lose weight to improve your health – or gain weight to improve your health, build muscle to improve your health, etc. But when you do it in pursuit of becoming a person of “value” or increasing your worth as a human being, that is when you are really hurt inside, and you need to begin healing yourself.
Note: Because of the tragic self-violence of disordered eating, I refuse to more “gracefully” word that.
While many people who have lost a great deal of weight are happy to have lost it, feel good about having lost it, and have lost it under medical supervision and/or through a healthy way, please always consider the possible ramifications of telling someone “Wow, you look so good after all that weight loss!” or tbh, commenting on people’s weights at all.
For me, today someone close to me commented in a way that was actually very considerate and was not at all hurtful to me (but validating instead). She had noticed the rapid weight loss and was concerned for me, knowing why it has been happening, and she treated it compassionately.
But I can’t tell you how many people have seen me in the past month and told me, “Wow, you look great now! Look at how much weight you’ve lost!” to which I must stifle a frustrated “I’ve lost weight because my body literally won’t allow me to eat and drink due to medical problems and I am so hungry and thirsty and miserable.”
The fact that I haven’t been able to leave the house much and so I haven’t seen many people is a true testament to how painfully common this response is.
Reducing the impact of a vice isn’t necessarily trying to eliminate it. We will probably always have at least a fraction of our childhood vices still in us. Instead, try to funnel it into something good, utilizing it differently to accentuate its potentially positive reciprocal.
Couldn’t sleep at all due to the endo pain but was able to fill eight pages in a random notebook with this before typing it up. Help me sleep. Please.
I have long maintained that many beautiful concepts have deep tragedies to them. I see, acknowledge, and appreciate the oft-ignored nooks and crannies of experience and of being, a strong witness to their darknesses, shadows, and the gems enveloped (or even later produced) by them. I’ve come to believe it’s part of the INFJ type, and perhaps among the reasons we are nicknamed “the Mystic” is because we are likelier to be privvy to the otherwise lost or forgotten gifts of deeper universal significance.
My personal outlook on this has taken a long time to develop. Aspect I share with others that I saw as valuable, beautiful, or forgiveable in them were not in myself. I couldn’t see my victories — small or big — as events or processes worth celebrating but congratulated others for things they themselves reportedly saw as minute gestures. Much of this stemmed from self-loathing, feelings of worthlessness and futility. I had higher expectations for myself than I had for those around me, marginally so. But I criticized my efforts, thoughts, feelings, and conduct in ways completely counterintuitive and ultimately counterproductive to growth. I was angry at myself for imagined attributes I didn’t really have or attributes I associated to others in completely inaccurate ways. I think it’s pretty normal for children and younger adolescents to make faulty connections like this. Normal but unhealthy and sadly, I’d say unhealthy habits, thought processes, self talk, etc are all extremely normal, even in adults.
Having C-PTSD and growing up with abuse from pretty much all directions however, I took those faulty connections to some pretty devastating extremes. (Trigger warning: Disordered thoughts – eating disorder + c-ptsd & casual descriptions of SI behaviors)
This (endometriosis) is what has kept me so absent from this blog. It is time I talk about it in-depth. I am creating a fundraiser to help pay for my treatment. Please read, share, and donate if you can, especially if you want to see this blog get going again. Your support will help greatly in making that happen. Thank you so much.
I have been experiencing 10+ symptoms of endometriosis since my first period at age 11 but have had these problems constantly shrugged off. Often the responses would be “periods are just naturally painful,” “these are regular girl problems,” etc. For this, I was often put on birth control but found it unhelpful. The Ortho Evra patch worsened my acne to extremes to the point where I have scars all over my face despite being careful to never touch my face with my hands, let alone scratch or pick. I often bled on pillows at night because the acne was so bad. In 2017, I was prescribed pure estradiol to combat hot flashes and lactation, but it seemed to just worsen my problems.
At 17, I had a full PTSD break when repressed memories that I had long been only somewhat aware of (but were silenced by non-professionals and medical and psychiatric professionals in childhood) brutally resurfaced. Because of this, many of my symptoms have been blamed on PTSD. I am aware there are definitely crossovers, but not all of my symptoms can be only PTSD related.
I have begged for a laparoscopy for at least three years, as I have been concerned about endometriosis. I had a tubal ligation at 21 because I knew with my hormonal problems (and the other problems they told me I had but never quite matched up), a pregnancy would send me totally over the edge and thought naively that perhaps maybe a tubal would help manage some of these problems as well.
On accountability and the benefits of remorse, its surprising relationship (or lack thereof) to shame, and thoughts regarding working towards making a better future for ourselves by learning from our past.
Note: I use past tense for some people who are still currently in my life as I am going to eventually separate myself from them by legal means. This is a process so it takes time but want to clarify that emotionally, I am finally done letting my remaining toxic interpersonal relationships affect me. That being said, you can love someone still and know it is an unhealthy relationship and thus separate yourself from them. This will be another post at a later time but some notes on toxic interpersonal relationships here.
I have made many egregiously bad choices in my life. Among them are selfish and destructive choices I feel rightfully guilty over, such as the long-term and vile harassment of another person online, spurred by insecurity, both self-loathing and conceit, and self-righteousness. Another is blatantly dismissing the testimonial of an abuser’s little sister who had entrusted me with the secret that her older sister had broken her arm. This should not have remained a secret, and she and I both suffered for my denial of a very real problem. Out of more self-righteous thinking and behavior, I have meddled in situations that are not mine, further worsening some people’s circumstances in the process. While I would like to think they were purely well intentioned, I know my self-righteousness and own feelings of victimization have played a huge role in these particular actions, which is a major reason why my approaches to helping have sometimes caused further damage instead. Little works in crises when one is letting their inner (and still-hurting) child lead the way.
These wrongs that I committed hurt and even worse, potentially traumatized or helped traumatize others. My guilt here is justified and teaches me to not commit these sins again. Guilt is a positive emotion when it is about true heartfelt remorse. It is inspired by awareness, both of self and others, accountability, and is more central to ethical behavior than religion or law. The reason for this is that guilt is an internal measurement, and regardless of whether someone is more extroverted feeling, like me, and pays close attention to external rules and cues, or is more of an introverted feeler and pays close attention to internally formed rules and cues, guilt is what betters all of us socially when, like all discomfort and pain, we choose to grow from it.
For someone whose auxiliary function is extroverted feeling, (Fe), I learn too slowly. I effect change too slowly. And when I am unusually sick or stressed, I sometimes fall back on unhealthy and harmful behaviors, often again spurred by self-righteousness and unresolved feelings of victimization. I do recognize the urgent need to stop it, as those behaviors help no one and cause more hurt than resolution. I raise my voice, and when I say “raise my voice,” I mean I yell when I get angry. And I become someone I myself can’t stand because I know I am causing hurt, and for reasons that at the end of the day, conflict with the behavior. I want people to listen and understand because when I yell, I feel hurt and ignored or misunderstood. But I know – when I am thinking rationally – all anyone does when they yell like that is hurt others and themselves. That’s why I have asked people to tell me when I am starting to raise my voice, so I can check myself and quiet myself down. It’s no one’s responsibility but mine, but I lose awareness, the sight of the goal (positive inter & intrapersonal development), and rationale in the heat of the moment and still need external reminders to calm the f*ck down. I have only gotten loud like this in the past three years. I’ve come to realize why but reasons for an unhealthy behavior do not and should not ever be confused with excuses. Still, unlearning this has been hard, and I have made only minimal progress since it was brought to my attention almost a year ago. Guilt, or perhaps the more specific term and meaning — remorse — is powerful and can greatly help to rectify bad behavior, but it is not the lone motivating force. I am making progress however and through identification and an implementation of coping skills, I hope to make this a past behavior more quickly.
Guilt vs shame
There is another feeling many people may relate closely to guilt – I used to too – but I caution strongly against making them so close. I can’t really remember where I first learned of the vital difference of meaning of these two words, but I know that actually proactively learning the difference took a long time even after. I do remember staring at the worksheet/handout in my early teens, trying to sift through events and circumstances in my head while utilizing the words’ very different meanings but having great difficulty in doing so. (Note: TRIGGER WARNING for disordered thoughts, including thoughts related to disordered eating and sexual trauma.) Continue reading “The commitment to move forward & guilt vs shame”
The depression is finally lifting to a tolerable degree. I believe being more honest with myself and others about my health, values, and belief system has helped tremendously. Being authentic has always been very important to me, and when I am less than completely genuine about my identity, my energies become fragmented and chaotic. I start doubting myself, and I denounce my positive traits, most of which come with their own duality of darknesses: I have wisdom because of what I have experienced, and I am loving towards people because of what I have needed to experience and didn’t. I set high standards for myself and demand better of myself because of past sins and mistakes. I create extraordinary things from extraordinary pain. One cannot exist without the other. Yin to yang, I am made of major dualities and opposing intensities, much like my own life and what I have lived through.
But all my plants are dying.
I have not watered them in so long. I have a rose plant and a glass bowl of succulents. They were both beautiful in their prime, and the rose plant even blossomed again this autumn, providing us with two wonderfully scented yellow flowers. I was always very good about watering them. I am a nurturer. It’s in my nature to take care of living entities, whether they be human, feline, or photosynthetic in nature. I have forgotten to give my furbaby Oskar his medicine routinely, as he has a respiratory infection right now. I’ve been giving him enough medicine for it to be clearing up, but I could have helped him heal much faster had I kept up the routine. This depressive episode turned me into someone I’m not.
I guess that’s the modus operandi of mental illness: They try to kill you from the inside out.
Unlike personality disorders, other mental illnesses are less embedded in one’s behavior, character, and system of living. Personality disorders often are developed in response to trauma or something occurring in utero, (e.g. serotonin syndrome), with the addition of witnessing violence at a young age, (which one might call trauma also), etc. But it’s also true that standard mental illnesses affect your behavior, as well. Depression causes fatigue, loss of interest, social withdrawal, negativity, suicidality, all sorts of things that make one a different person than they were. Alternatively, mania causes a spike in energy, impulsivity, hyperfocusing, inflated confidence, and sometimes even dangerous delusions that lead to the person’s suicide.
All my plants are dying, my cat is still sick, all of my art supplies are scattered everywhere and have been untouched for months. I haven’t been making jewelry or papercrafting. I haven’t been shooting at all. I painted two paintings since I can’t even remember when. I have always been severely depressed, and I’ve been chronically suicidal for most of my life. I live with the heaviness and sadness every day of my life. I have learned to cope with it to some degree, but sometimes it gets so heavy, it is suffocating.
I’m going to water my plants and hope they forgive me and hope that Oskar’s next doses will help him kick the infection. I hope the plants overcome the odds and Oskar heals soon. Life is resilient. I’ve learned that. If it can fight, it will fight, whether it wins or loses. Oskar will be fine soon; I know that. He’s almost completely well. But here’s to hoping the plants have a chance. I hope within the next few posts, I can tell you
“My plants are alive again.”